Contrary to the Central Government’s assertion of “revolution” as the forcible overthrow of a Government, and in this instance, linked with the demand by the Global Coalition for Security and Democracy in Nigeria’s street protests, a forcible overthrow may or may not have anything to do with “revolution”, for the overthrow may be for the self-preservation of an existing regime(as recently happened in the Sudan) or a form of neutralizing an internal or external threat to the regime without addressing any existential issues in the society (as happened in Zimbabwe).
From Nigeria’s experience, there had been many instances where forcible overthrow of an existing Government had occurred and in no instance were any deemed to be revolutionary; from the January 15, 1966 forcible change of government, even as the principal actors deemed themselves “revolutionary” to the July 1966 counter-coup and in all of the successive military coups since then.
Ascribing its 2019 electoral victory to a preference for electoralism on the part of the Peoples of Nigeria does not vitiate the need for street protests in pursuit of certain demands, as expressed by the Coalition, more-so when such demands did not constitute part of the Administration’s electoral projections.
Therefore, neither the use of force nor electoralism, by themselves, constitute a revolutionary act nor a recognition of the demands of the Peoples and the Administration cannot thereby call a dog a bad name in order to hang it.
This reductionism to a choice between forcible or electoral change of government is not only a disservice to the expectations of a People, but also an attempt at diverting attention from the contradictions embedded in the Nigerian State formation of which the current president, Muhammadu Buhari , is a major beneficiary, not only as a result of his 2019 electoral victory, but more importantly, his being an active participant in all of the forcible overthrow of Nigeria’s government since 1966; such that even when he was overthrown in 1985, by 1993, he ended up as one of the most trusted allies of Sanni Abacha’s military establishment.
Yet, street protests are a legitimate part of any form of social struggles, be it under a military regime, as we witnessed during “June 12” or under civilian dispensations, as had taken place at different times; for example, as expressed under the banner of “Save Nigeria Group”. If these protests ended up with a change of government, it can only mean that the government of the day was unable to address the contradictions that gave rise to the protests in the first instance and which does not make those street protests a “revolution”.
Electoral victories or street protests do not necessarily translate into an interrogation of the social relations in the society, but pursuing only a change of policy, as now being demanded by the Coalition or change of government, as experienced by the current government in 2015, and which Nigeria has witnessed since 1999, where the various electoral victories did not touch the foundational structure of the Post-colonial Nigerian State and its perversion of Federalism, the form of State that accompanied Independence; rather, what we have witnessed are various attempts at strengthening the aberration under the cover of electoral victories.
Therefore, for the Central Government to ask the Global Coalition for Security and Democracy in Nigeria to adhere to the electoral process as a means of changing Governments only shows that the Administration’s differences with the Coalition are not about substance but of form; a question of methodology and not a fundamental critique of the society that will translate into a direct change in social and political relations; meaning both the Administration and the Coalition are on the same page, moving towards the same destination but by different routes.
Why then should the same Administration characterize its own route as “democratic” and the Coalition’s as “treasonable”?
The answer could only be found in the historical role of the Nigerian post-colonial State, charged with ensuring sustenance of the colonial imperative, which is also the raison d’etre of any agitation for revolutionary change—regardless of methodology; more-so when either methodology(electoralism or street protests), by itself, does not guarantee an interrogation of existing social relations.
The “Winds of Change” that blew across Africa, leading to the “Independence” of many colonial creations, created conditions for social and political revolution in terms of the coming into being of hitherto suppressed Peoples of Africa and balkanized into separate post-colonial states.
These expectations were suppressed by the Post-Colonial State apparatus, especially through the colonial military, whose mindset was not different from that of the colonizer. The Nigerian Armed Forces, from its foundation as the Hausa Constabulary Force transitioning into a West African Volunteer Force, functioned as a colonial stabilizing force, trained to subjugate the “natives,” suppress the Peoples and relate with them as a conquered specie. This was why the “Nigerian Army” never batted an eyelid when sent on such errands as very many examples in Nigeria show.
Yet, these also created the platform for a fundamental critique of the colonial paradigm, hence the various conflicts across the continent being tied to the existential control and/or influence or lack thereof, of the Peoples on the post-colonial State, as had also been the real experience in Nigeria, and subsequently the imposition of all sorts of military-inspired Unitarist and Homogenizing Constitutions on the country, which is what the problem is, in Nigeria, today, despite the Administration’s claim to electoral or “democratic” legitimacy.
Sustenance of the post-colonial State, in its “pure” form of suppressing the Peoples became this military’s own imperative; this type of military cannot possibly be transformed into its opposite, the anti-thesis of colonialism unless its original intent is abolished such that it becomes a creation borne out of the “soul”, the essence of the society and which can only come from “within” the ethos of the Nation/People/Nationality, an essential ingredient absent in the Nigerian post-colonial state.
An extension of consequences of this anomaly is the current crisis of the Nigerian Post-Colonial State pitting the Coalition and the Administration against each other and expressed in the denial of the expectations of the Peoples in and of themselves.
Both failed to interrogate the contradictions of the Nigerian Post-colonial State since none of the aspirations of the Peoples, in terms of their becoming, consequent upon Independence, were placed before the electorate by the victorious Administration and are not even on the list of demands provided by the Coalition.
The Administration cannot claim to represent the interest of most of the Peoples, despite its electoral victory, because of this denial of the Peoples of Nigeria as the Constituents by virtue of the military-inspired Constitution on which its electoral victory rests; just as the Amendments to the Constitution of the United States in favor of the African American Community and various electoral successes by various political parties did not obviate the electoral or street protest agitation for Civil Rights by African-Americans.
Whatever level the Administration aspires to, and whatever slogans the Coalition embodies, the reality is that a historical precedent for recognizing the Peoples as the Constituent, exists,—the Regional form of Government at Independence—and all references to any form of development in Nigeria always point to this historical precedent, despite the limitations of that period—- and the spirited attempts by the military to replace and destroy it is the foundation for the current crisis.
Proceeding from the precedent is the context of its necessary implication for the present, since the crisis simultaneously engenders the forces necessary for the solution, to wit, the negation of the denial of the Peoples and which forces of actualization are the Nationalities/Peoples that make up the country; the reaffirmation of their existential imperatives being the solution to the crisis of State.
This is why Egbe Omo Oduduwa proposed the Yoruba Referendum as the route towards addressing these existential issues of the Peoples, anchored on the Annexure to the Bill for a Referendum, which states as follows:
A Federal Nigeria, through a Federal Constitution, to be known as The Union of Nigerian Constituent Nationalities, with a Federal Presidential Council, whose members will be selected or elected from each of the Nationalities as Federating Units and from whom a Head of State will be selected or elected as the primus-inter-pares with an agreed term; Western/Oduduwa Region shall be a Constituent Unit of the Nigerian Union; Western/Oduduwa Region shall adopt a Parliamentary System of government; The Central Government of the Union shall have no power to interfere nor intervene in the affairs of the ODUDUWA REGION, save as shall be agreed to by three quarters of the members of the Region’s Parliament; There shall be a Division of the Federal Armed Forces in the Region, 90% of which personnel shall be indigenes of the Region. The Divisional commander shall be an indigene of Oduduwa Region; The Judicial power of the Region shall be vested in the Supreme Court of the Region, Court of Appeal, High Court, Customary Court and Other lower courts as the Parliament may establish. There shall be a Court of Appeal in each of the provinces. There shall be, in each province, a High Court from which appeals shall lie to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court of the Region; Western/Oduduwa Region shall have its own internal security system; Each Constituent Unit of the Nigerian Federation shall control primary interest in its own resources with an agreed Tax Model for the Federation.
The Referendum will simultaneously reaffirm the Nationality as the Constituent as well as address social, political and economic issues pertinent to the development of the Nation-State.
Shenge Rahman Akanbi; Femi Odedeyi,
for and on behalf of Egbe Omo Oduduwa